Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Wednesday Weekly Bits and Pieces - 30 October 2013



I also mentioned that we upgraded our iMac to OS X Mavericks. There were some issues: I needed to re-install java so that some of the games on Facebook worked (yeah, Candy Crush again!). Other people had differing problems with the upgrade. Here are some other fixes from Wired
A complete review of OS X Mavericks by ARS Technica is online now. It's an awesome review and if you have a Mac of any kind, you need to spend some time with the review.

And if you have a Mac you might want to take a look at the new Pixelmator 3.0. At least look at the cover picture. Oh, my.

You certainly might want to think about making a bootable OS X 10.9 Mavericks USB install drive.

Computers keep you from thinking, though. (Well, so does television.) Think about that.

I thought about it - a lot. I just bought a new computer - and I'm going back to a PC. I'll publish more on that in the future. I love the Mac, and maybe I simply forgot all the troubles I used to have with a PC. I'm a gamer, though, and the Mac is simply not a gamer's machine - unless I boot it into Windows. We'll see how it goes.

Sebelius apologizes for healthcare.gov website, but says "the outside contractors that built the website never recommended delaying the October 1 launch." She does say she's accountable.

Turns out, we might not be able to keep our existing plans. I'm fairly certain I heard the President promise we'd be able to… I'll leave it at that. Sally Kohn says that some people will lose their current insurance, but will have access to better plans and in many cases pay less (emphasis mine). I hope this is true.

The current Healthcare.gov website underestimates the monthly payments for the plans, though. In this article, TechCrunch confirmed that the web site gives an estimate of $231/month when the actual cost will be $360/month. That's off by 55%, in the wrong direction. Ouch.

On the other hand, the NSA website is down (or it was - I didn't check on it). That actually makes sense to me. The NSA doesn't need their own site; they are busy reading everyone else's sites. I sort of wish they would read mine...

The WSJ has an article by Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. explaining a little more about the Affordable Health Care Act.


We've misused antibiotics for over fifty years. One scientist thinks that the age of antibiotics is over. That should make us afraid - very afraid. It certainly scares me. Perhaps the coming pandemic will not be intentional, but simply the extrapolation of antibiotic resistant germs.

The World loved President Obama. After President Bush, they thought we had a real winner. The world seems to have changed its collective mind.


I don't know anything about bitcoins. I wish I did. In 2009 a Norwegian student spent about $27 dollars for some, just to see how it was done. He forgot about them. In April, 2013 he read something about them online and checked his balance, now worth over $800,000. You read that right. We should all be so clever.

If you live in the south you know how vital air conditioning seems to our modern lives. Now MIT developed a little wrist device that makes you think you are cool. I could have used something like this when we were in Rwanda, but they need to make it smaller.

On the flip side of the world, the small Norwegian town of Rjukan now has mirrors to help heat the town. Since Rjukan sits in a small valley, the enterprising people of the town put computer-controlled mirrors on the moutaintop that focus heat and light into the center of the town. Brilliant, in so many ways.

A fourteen year old multi-millionaire. All she wanted was a new car. Her folks said she had to earn the money herself. So now she has a $250 million dollar business. I sure hope she gets a nice car.

I've waited for this for over thirty years - a microwave cooler, or a reverse-microwave cooler. I don't care what you call it. It cools things. I want one.

Another thing I've looked for is a lock-screen on my phone that only shows the apps I most often use. Well, the iPhone isn't getting one, but Android phones will soon.

The Christian Science Monitor has forty tips for iPhone users. Some will be in my next book.

Detroit is going to turn more than 140 acres of land into apark. It's a great idea. The population in Detroit dropped from over two million to less than a million people and the city is bankrupt. They need a park.

Archaeologists recovered five cannons from Blackbeard's Queen Anne's Revenge off the coast of North Carolina. Blackbeard survived the intentional scuttling of the ship, but only for six more months. More than 200,000 artifacts have now been recovered from the wreck.

Professors are quitting academia. Yet they still won't let me in.

There are some new ideas out there on how to help the world's poor - give them money directly. There are some problems, of course. This method doesn't help the root cause of the poverty. I know that, but am reminded of the story of the starfish on the beach. "It matters to that one."

If you really want to learn something about elliptic curve cryptography, here's your article! My mind did cartwheels trying to understand it all.

This is a long article on Wired, but it tells how storytelling as we know it will change. I don't think they make a case against good books, though, but they make some good points about making movies.

I think something along the lines of Google glass is the future, but I've been wrong before. Still, it's good to see that Google is letting more people in on their Glass Explorer program - for a cool $1500.

PC Magazine has a list of the thirty best Kindle Fire Apps. Since we own a Kindle Fire and I just started playing with it (after nine months) I thought I'd take a look. Not all of them are useful for me, but some are surprising. And it makes me think I need to be developing apps for the Kindle!

I wonder how the Microsoft Surface 2 compares to the new Apple iPad Air. I need wonder no more. PC Magazine did the comparison for me, saving me the cost of both devices! (Thanks, guys!) 
Of course, there's another player in town now. The Nokia Lumia 2520 looks like a contender for portable computing.

If you read this today, there is a really good deal on a Dell laptop. If you don't read it today, they'll show something else. Not everything is a good deal, though, so caveat emptor. Oh, and I'm not an affiliate! 

My buddy should be getting his 3D printer soon. He told me I could use it to print a 3D something, but I need to decide what. I'm thinking Klein bottle, but PC Magazine does have a link to some of the strangest things people have printed. Some are not safe for work, really, so beware. 

Time has a good article about smart watches (I just can't bring myself to combine those words yet). Who really wants one, they ask. I gave mine up and will do an article on it soon, but here's what Time says.
Basically, there's no market yet.

I mentioned this phone idea a few posts ago, but Time caught sight of it also. Make your own phone from building blocks. It's an idea whose time has come - if you like Legos™ (who doesn't?). 

Science fiction become reality again. Disney Research (I so wanted to work with them when I was younger) developed a screen you can feel. Right now it's pretty complicated, but they can make it work. Combining new 3D technology with simulated touch will open huge new horizons. We won't need to be in the same room to give someone a hug. You extrapolate the implications of that.

A tiny Haswell computer! I'll put the picture in, but you should know that ARS Technica will review it in a few weeks. I'm excited. Look at the picture and notice how the quarter gives you some perspective of its size. It is full-powered, too, except maybe for gaming graphics. There's a new Haswell chip for that, too and I expect big things from the Iris chip in the future.

If you love small computers, you know about Arduino. An Egyptian company developed a board for it that lets it act as a multi-board, programmable by your phone. Yeah, I want to start playing with them too.

Or go play with a PC Jr emulator. Yeah, you younger kids have no idea what I'm talking about, do you?

I'm skipping to the human side of real life now. For everyone who asked, yes, Darling's surgery went fine and thanks for asking. In the last three years she has had four surgeries, but this little two-hour outpatient surgery for her abdomen went well.
Angelo and Jennifer have a different story.  Five months after their marriage Jennifer was diagnosed with breast cancer. Angelo recorded it all in photos. If you don't want to cry, don't look at these. Jennifer died in December of 2011. 

Marie Curie and her husband were pioneers in radioactivity - in fact, they coined the word. Her papers are still radioactive.

If you don't pay attention to the movies, you won't know that Ender's Game opens in two days. I don't know how good it will be, but I plan to check it out. The trailer is a good teaser, though. I'm reading the book again…

Nine days from now is Thor, and on May 23 next year is X-Men: Days of Future Past. You can see the first X-Men trailer here.

Michelle Duggar, the mother of nineteen children (and thus a reality tv star) says she struggled with anger issues. You don't need to read the article, but I have to say of course she struggled with anger issues. She had nineteen children! My mother had a few problems with anger also, and she only had four boys! I'd cut her some slack. (It is a good article, though.)

You knew I'd send you elsewhere to look at cool stuff! This time it's the sky! Look, then look up!

Thanks for reading! See you next week!

Oh, and Happy Birthday, Nick! I don't forget, my friend ...


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